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Aggies have bright future in Mountain West

Put the Team on my Back

MARK HOPKINS

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013

Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2013 12:04

 

With the move to the Mountain West Conference next year, critics have come hounding for the Utah State basketball program. Can they win in a more elite conference? How will their athleticism transfer over? Will they ever win twenty games again?

Funny how these same questions were asked eight years ago when the Aggies made the jump from the Big West to the Western Athletic Conference. And I think it’s safe to say that back-to-back-to-back-to-back conference championships answered the doubters then. With the recruiting class Stew Morrill has coming in this year, the doubters can go stay with new WAC schools like Chicago State, Grand Canyon and dear Utah Valley University.

With the addition of guard Viko Noma’aea this week, the 2013 Utah State basketball recruiting class is now filled out at every position, with five players that are worthy of competing in the Mountain West Conference. With no disrespect to the current players on the roster, these younglings have the talent and athleticism to help Utah State make the next leap in the basketball world.

With Marvin Jean and Matt Lopez transferring, the opportunity is there for at least two of the players to earn some minutes next year, while the other three will probably redshirt. The only non-freshman of the group, Kyle Davis, is the most likely to see the floor next year. Davis, a sophomore, is transferring from Southern Utah after an LDS mission. At 6-foot-8, he is an athletic post player who can play both forward positions and led the Thunderbirds in rebounding his freshman year. The former Utah 5A MVP looks like he could be a great backup to Ben Clifford next season.

The most Sportscenter-worthy of the group is JoJo McGlaston, a 6-foot-4 guard from California. If you haven’t seen his YouTube clips yet, please take time during your next class to do so. His in-game dunks rival those of Kyisean Reed, plus the kid is apparently a defensive beast with range. ESPN gives the lefty a ranking of 78 out of 100 and lists him as the 14th best player in California this year. He’s my personal pick to be the fourth wing available next year.

Not that Jalen Moore is any bit of a slouch either. A 6-foot-7 wing with a two-foot afro, the local Sky View kid who just won a state championship looks set for future Aggie greatness. He’ll probably need the season to bulk up for the college level, but his athleticism and length should be fantastic assets for Stew Morrill later on.

Stew always does well with big men, and Carson Shanks should be the next one in line. A mobile seven-footer with great hands, Shanks got plenty of big time offers around the country,

from Colorado State to Nebraska, but stayed true to Utah State. With Stew’s system and the talent Shanks seems to pack with his size, he could be a dominating presence after a redshirt.

All that’s left is Noma’aea, whose name we’ll figure out eventually. He filled up the stat sheet a few years ago as a point guard for his high school, and after a couple year break, he’ll come in as a sweet freshman scorer for the Aggies. Expect him to wait for his moment of glory later on. And with all this talent, glory such as a future Mountain West title might not be too far away.

 

 

– Mark is an obsessive Aggie fan who moonlights as an almost unbiased Statesman writer. He is majoring in business administration and preparing for medical school. Comment at m.hop@aggiemail.usu.edu or his blog, www.spectrumagic.blogspot.com.

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